Senate Acts on WOTUS Legislation

waterThis week, the Senate finally took up a series of votes on the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ “waters of the United States” rule. A major priority for cattle ranchers and all land-use stakeholders, Montana Stockgrowers has been working aggressively with our Congressional Representatives and Attorney General Tim Fox to repeal WOTUS and limit EPA’s attempt at overreach in controlling our water on private lands.

Earlier this week, the Senate took a vote on SB 1140 – Federal Water Quality Protection Act, sponsored by Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), which failed to obtain the necessary 60 votes to pass. SB 1140 aimed to repeal WOTUS in favor of rules to “protect traditional navigable water and wetlands from water pollution, while also protecting farmers, ranchers and private landowners.”

Montana Stockgrowers Association, along with Attorney General Tim Fox and Montana Chamber of Commerce signed on in support of SB 1140. Senator Steve Daines supported the bill and testified in front of Congress, sharing comments from MSGA President, Gene Curry.

“MSGA thanks Senator Daines for supporting SB 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, and his continued opposition to work to stop the final WOTUS rule. This rule is an unwise and unwarranted expansion of EPA’s regulatory authority over Montana’s waters, and would have a significant detrimental impact on Montana’s ranchers.”

Watch Daines’ testimony regarding WOTUS here. Following the vote, Senator Jon Tester signed on to a letter to EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, encouraging the agency to “provide clearer and concise implementation guidance to ensure that the rule is effectively and consistently interpreted,” recognizing this as something ranchers deserve.

The Senate then turned to consideration of a joint resolution of disapproval sponsored by Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). The vote in support of the joint resolution showed bi-partisan support and the resolution passed 53-44. SJ 22 “would order the EPA and Corps to withdraw the WOTUS rule and would prevent the agencies from further similar rulemaking.” (Farm Progress) The joint resolution must still be considered by the House before going to the President’s desk.

Montana Stockgrowers continues to work aggressively with our state and national leaders to represent the interests of our members on this important national policy. We encourage all MSGA members to attend policy committee meetings during our upcoming Annual Convention for further discussion on this and other important policy topics.

A full Annual Convention agenda and registration can be found on our website at

Senate Hearing Reviews Army Corps’ Role in WOTUS

waterWASHINGTON (Sept. 30, 2015) – Today the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water held a hearing on the Army Corps of Engineers’ participation in the “waters of the United States” regulation. The subcommittee focused on internal memos released by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. While the memos show the Corps leadership having serious concerns with the science underlying the WOTUS rule, Jo Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army insisted, as co-author, the Corps supported the final rule.

The hearing provided ample opportunity to highlight the issues raised in the memos and the gulf between the Corps and EPA in the arbitrary standards used in the final rule. Philip Ellis, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president and Chugwater, Wyo., cattleman, said the arbitrary nature of this rule poses a danger to all land uses.

“This rule is clearly not based on science, nor does it relate to keeping our waters clean,” said Ellis. “It is a transparent land grab by the administration and EPA. Cattlemen and women will continue to oppose this rule in Congress and in the courtroom. This rule and the flawed rulemaking process underlie the need for legislation to withdraw the rule and compel the agencies to work with all stakeholders.”

The WOTUS rule became effective in all but 13 states on August 28. A Federal Circuit Judge in North Dakota granted a temporary preliminary injunction on implementation of the WOTUS rule in the case brought by the 13 states before his court. Since enforcement of the rule, 31 states and numerous stakeholders, including the NCBA and Public Lands Council, have engaged in 22 lawsuits challenging EPA’s transparent lack of authority to regulate all waters in the United States.

NCBA and PLC support S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, bipartisan legislation that would direct the EPA to withdraw the final WOTUS rule and work with stakeholders in drafting a new rule to clarify the Clean Water Act.

–NCBA Press Release